Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Beat a Dead Horse?

Is my long awaited return upon us?

Who am I talking to?

What 'us' am I trying to establish?

Where have I been?

Why haven't I been posting?

Who is actually reading this?

Who cares?

So many valid questions.

So few made up answers I can offer.

All I can say, is that after a six month or so hiatus, I thought I would give up on this blog, but it seems that some things refuse to die. I guess I just haven't smeared myself all over the internet enough yet.

My original vision for this blog was to create a commentary on writing and reading fantasy and science fiction; over time the blog has become more about my often humorous musings. I worried that I was tricking people into expecting a more high brow blog, but then they got my comedy of errors instead. This, coupled with the lack of general interest, stalled and eventually killed the beast.

But, as I said, the ghost of the blogs past has been haunting my mind, and instead of filling it with beautiful music like the phantom of the opera, I'm just left with funny things that only I get to enjoy. I think I've finally broken down, and decided that I'll begin sharing these humorous thoughts with the world again. It won't be the same rigidly structured blog as before, my posts will be sporadic but hopefully will still be often enough. All I know, is that I have a lot of comedic gold that I should share instead of hording it like a scrooge. It's just like George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart said: You can't take it with you, but you can leave it on the internet for future generations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zombie-mania, Could it be Lamer?

Okay, so I was going to post on Zombie books and add a little about Zombie-Mania but the more I looked into zombie wannabes the more it became apparent that zombie-mania was a post all on its own. I've even heard someone say that Zombies are more popular than vampires. What I want to know, is why do people want to be zombies? Zombies aren't cool, the people that kill them and survive are cool, being a zombie is like wanting to be slaughtered to promote someone else's cool factor. I guess I just don't get it, but there are a lot of people that do.

Locally, zombie marches/walks have occurred, or are planned to occur:

When I tried to research these local marches, I found a website for the entire country, although I didn't inspect it for validity.

I also have been informed about a tumblr with growing popularity which is dedicated to photos of zombies, and even Stephen Colbert sounded off about the new 'zombie tag' epidemic:

And if you think zombie-mania is restricted just to humans, think again:

Even with this new desire to be a zombie, I don't think you will find any kindergartners saying they want to be a zombie when they grow up, and when we're all zombies will we be holding 'Human Marches'? When all of us die and then rise up again, will we long for those days when we were alive or will we just be more desiring of brains and moaning for our lost limbs and lost humanity?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Zombie Attacks - Are You Ready?

Most people are not ready for raptor attacks and even less people are ready for zombie attacks. A zombie emergency kit (or ZEK) is very important; being prepared can make the difference between keeping your brains and losing them. With that said, here are the elements for a basic ZEK:

Let there be Light!

Every good ZEK must contain a flashlight. When the world goes to the zombies who do you think will be running the power plants? No one. It would be good to have one of those flashlights that runs on kinetic energy, so you can just shake and glow, especially since batteries can take up way too much space and weight in your ZEK. No matter what type of flashlight you get, also consider the size of the flashlight, because it may need to double as a weapon, and if you have a kinetic flashlight, every time you pummel a zombie the light will get brighter, just something to take into consideration.

FUDZ, Not Brains.

The next thing your ZEK needs is bottled water and protein bars. You can't stock up on canned food because the scent from your beans and franks might attract zombies or wild animals. Protein/nutrition bars will keep you alive even though your taste buds might die from eatting these long term.

Weapons Are For Everyone!

The discussion of weapons is a long one but I'll try to keep it succinct. With weapons you must be practical. Will you really be able to find and carry a bunch of gas for your chainsaw or flame thrower? Also, making your own weapons is a plus, even though you can go down to the Zombie Surplus Store, if you make your own weapons you can only blame yourself when they break and you die. A final note on weapons is that your weapons must be your babies. You must keep them sharp, keep them loaded and love them more than your own mother.

My school of thought on zombie weapons is to have a long range and a short range weapon.

My choicest weapons include:

Shot gun (obviously). Not only can you blow a hole through a zombie but the gun powder in your shells can be used to cauterize wounds.

Gigantic Crow Bar. A good rule of thumb is to have a crowbar that is about the same size as your shot gun. It gives you a good area to swing with, while keeping you out of arms length and the sharp points on the crowbar is good for severing spinal cords.

Other weapons that have been suggested:

As said before chainsaws and flame throwers are options, but you have to consider the amount of gasoline you'll need for these weapons.

Axes are good along with any swords you can find laying around.

Crossbows, and regular bows can be useful, although you'll have to be a really good shot for your arrow to do much damage to the living dead.

Some weapons that aren't so effective are chains, butter knives, steak knives, rubber band guns, pea shooters, glue guns, bear traps, fly traps, bees, pens (they really aren't mightier than swords when used against zombies).

A final weapon that can be homemade and maybe be quite kickass is of my sister's design. I'm not sure what to call it (made from a four socketed tire iron and knives) but maybe the photo will speak for itself:
Overall, a ZEK includes many of your basics and may include some optional items like a radio, leather (to wear) and board games since zombie takeovers usually end up in a waiting game and as you wait why not play candy land and chutes and ladders?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Film Adaptations

Okay, so I get really geeked about some books coming to a theater near me. I get really rev'd up about seeing characters come to life on a big screen. These events help me to enjoy a book all over again - sometimes. I feel like 90% of the time I'm faced with a big disappointment, worse than when you find out your kid decided to join the Reform party of 1996 or some other "waste of a vote" party.

Now I know that film adaptations rarely please every viewer, especially if they are die hard fans of the book prior to the film. I think the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter movies come the closest to being true to their originals, but even those films are disliked by the most extreme fans, or just nit picky nerds. One thing these film have, is their length, but even after hour 3, they still have to leave stuff out, and who can blame them, a book that took me a month to read cannot be fully reproduced in 2 hours. Does that logic keep me from becoming disappointed? No. Why not? Because I still expect the best from Hollywood, if you're going to mess with something great, you should make something equal or greater to the original or I will be upset. Not that they care about how I feel, but it is the truth so I'm saying it.

To fit a 300+ page novel into a movie, writers have to get crafty. They have to invent people, leave out people, mix up story lines, change stories, change characters, I mean George Lucas' Star Wars: A New Hope was actually a rewrite of Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a horribly gone astray mis-re-write (my sources tell me) although I guess Obi-wan is the Good, Darth Vader is the Bad and Princess Leia is the Ugly. What's that? You disagree? Fine, we'll call Han Solo the Ugly. Still not satisfied? Well then C3PO. Why not Chewie you say? Because that's racist, just because he's hairy doesn't mean he's Ugly. Remember the ewoks? They were so cute...but they didn't come in until the last movie, but not the last last, the first last and then they made more because Lucas didn't have enough money to keep living his big spender lifestyle or w/e.

Long story short, there are two paths a viewer can take when watching a film adaption. Either be pleasantly surprised with the new story or be filled with impotent rage with the lack of consistency with the original story. I find myself in category number two, especially after viewing X-men Origins: Wolverine this past weekend. Sure, I'm no X-men authority, but when you can't even keep up with my knowledge, something is wrong. Ultimately, you'd have to make a book into a mini series to really do it justice (like Stephen King's The Stand) but even then you can screw it up.

Here is a list of film adaptations I've seen and if I think they were successful or not in maintaining enough of the original content of the story. I've also added a new poll so you can share which you think were the best and worst film adaptations of these beloved stories and characters.

Lord of the Rings - Successful.
Timeline - Disappointed.
Harry Pottery 1-5 - Successful.
X-Men - Moderately Successful.
X-Men 2 - Moderately Successful.
X-Men: Last Stand - Mortified and Disappointed.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Somewhat Disappointed.
Watchmen - Overly Successful.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Successful.
Prince Caspian - Mortified but Successful.
Stardust - Successful.

Okay, so building this list I've found a lot that I haven't read but could be on the list, so I'll put those on the poll for all of you to choose from. Also, add a comment if you think I've missed out on a real gem.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prequels, Sequels, Triquels & Series

In the wonderful world of Fantasy, it can be daunting to put the complex lives of your characters into the constraints of only one novel. A lot of authors have sought out sequels and series to fully examine their tales, some even, years afterwards find out that there was more to the story and write up sequels or prequels to their tales.

The when and why questions that come up for an author can only be determined by the author. When should a novel actually be two novels? Why should this story be explored through a series of books? Creating a series can enhance your story but it also can water it down, drag it out, make it unenjoyable by your reader. I think a good general rule is length (if it's a long story maybe it can be cut in two) but it's really about what the author thinks, if their story is complete and yet there is more to be said (enough to fill another novel), then maybe they'll begin anew, if there is no more to be said, or too little, they may just abandon a sequel.

Some more memorable Fantasy series are:

Mists of Avalon Series spearheaded by Marion Zimmer Bradley (she wrote/co-wrote most of them).
Choose Your Own Adventure Series by Various Authors (I know this series is fantasy and sci-fi, but no one gives it props anymore):
As a reader, you'll have a preference for series or for single novels. Do you like to get attached to characters and follow them through their lives and through their children's lives? Do you like a quick read that is over after the first novel? My favorite books tend to come from series, but is that because they are in a series, is it just a coincidence or is it because I get to choose my own adventure?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Okay, so I wasn't going to post anything until my regularly scheduled post on Tuesdays, but today is Shakespeare's Birthday and if it was my birthday (September 22nd for all of you that need to know so you can buy me shiny things) I would expect my good friend and confidant Shakespeare to say something about it in his blog. But, I'd probably have to be dead for roughly 393 years before this kind of nonsense broke out: Apparently, April 23rd is talk like Shakespeare day, in honor of his birthday. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with the foul mouthed foe, you'll probably chat it up Elizabethan style, but people true to Shakespeare will be spouting out F bombs and mother truckers all day long.

And no birthday is truly celebrated until someone tries to profit off of it, as with's poor plea for me to buy "books to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday"

So whether you speak like Shakespeare, act out one of his plays, or pretend like he never existed, have fun celebrating this saucy pirate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fantasy Pick for April 2009

The Alvin Maker Series is a wonderful fantasy series written by Orson Scott Card.

The first book The Seventh Son starts a the story of Alvin, the seventh son of a seventh son, who by default is imbued with powers. In the first book he is a young child who must understand his powers and how to use them.

The second book Red Prophet continues the tale of Alvin as he searches for his destiny and how this affects the people around him.

This series has six books in all, with a possible seventh (which would make sense since seven is such an important number) in the works. Throughout these tales, we meet many people who grow and change along with Alvin. One of the elements I like best about this series is that it is a historical fantasy, using elements of American history in its tales and explaining them in new and interesting ways.
If you're a fan of Mr. Card, of fantasy, or of American history, this is a series to check out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vampires Bite

The vampire myth has been around since, well, since vampires starting appearing on the scene. The myth has mystified writers and readers and continues to pop up in books and on television. The main element that keeps this archetypal character interesting, are the new spins put on the character. Be it a bunny turned vamp (Bunnicula) or a Vampire vampire killer (Blade), keeping this archetype fresh and exciting is the key to it's longevity in text, film and T.V.

The vampire craze doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon. It seems to be spreading to cats, maybe those who have seen the movie twilight - idk. But consider this photo from the web as evidence:This would explain my own cat's recent desire to bite anything and everything. Even a poor defenseless book:The assault on my book leads me to believe that my own cat is more out for knowledge than blood, but she was unsuccessful since she only punctured the cover of this unsuspecting victim.

When exploring a character of a vampire, it's a tricky line to walk; keeping with vampire lore while creating a new vampire story, especially when vampire lore isn't always accepted as vampire fact. Can vampires go in sunlight? What truly kills a vampire? Are they soulless? Are they immortal? Do they have reflections? So many questions must be answered!?!?!?! I guess I'll have to ask my cat but only after she's bit enough books to learn English.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

50th Post and 1st Year Anniversary!

Happy 1st year anniversary blog!

As a congratulatory post, I’ve made up a pop quiz to see how much readers have learned through the years. Enjoy!

1. True or False: Having explored dialogue on this site, this would be a good set of dialogue between two characters:

me: I got the best compliment yesterday. I checked out a lady's items quickly (my usual speed) and she said "I'd hate to see you with a gun."

Amanda: LOL

Amanda: That is so sad

me: That I'm the fastest draw in the west?

Amanda: That you think that's the "best compliment" :)

me: Oh

me: it is the best compliment when you're a cowboy

Amanda: LOL

me: on a steal horse I ride

me: I'm wanted

me: wanted...

Amanda: dead or alive

me: dead or alive

me: jinx

me: you owe me a coke

Amanda: it's a steel horse btw

me: I stolez it

Amanda: LOL

Answer: Trick Question – no one uses internet acronyms in everyday speech. So it’s neither true nor false, it’s non-existent.

2. True or false: You go back in time and kill yourself.

Answer: False, if you were to go back and kill yourself and you would find out that you did not kill yourself because if you kill yourself then there is no you in the future to come back to the past and kill yourself. It's like getting yourself into a pickle you can never defeat.

3. True or False: David Blaine is a magician.

Answer: False, David Blaine is a troll, or a hobo, or both.

4. True or False: Centaurs were once known as James A. Garfield haters.

Answer: True, it is widely known that centaurs did not agree with Garfield’s hawkish republican views nor did they agree with his “resignation” from military service during the Civil War to fill a seat in Congress. Seemingly a man who was all bark and no bite, it has been suggested that his actions enraged the centaurs so much that he was assassinated by a centaur.

Multiple Choice:

5. Which of these characters have NOT been a guest on this blog:
A. Kittencorn

B. Shakespeare in Space

C. Magenta Hulk


Answer –Magenta hulk, he’s a freak and doesn’t deserve to be on the same site as these other character gems.

6. Which of these DOES NOT describe Jenny (the author of this blog)?
A. Samurai with the ability to time travel
B. Vampire with the ability to time travel
C. Zombie with the ability to time travel
D. Time Traveling Robot With Super Cool Disco Moves

Answer – D, in post My Writing Process pt 2 – Writing Time I explain that I’m human, not a time traveling robot with super cool disco moves as previously thought.

7. How many of these people are Nazis?
A. Adolf Hitler
B. Henry Ford
C. Michael Crichton
D. John Locke

Answer: Only Adolf Hitler is a proven Nazi, while Ford was a known Nazi sympathizer (special word for Nazi) and the other two I have my suspicions about…

8. Which of these creatures can be killed by being repetitively run over with an SUV?
A. Zombie
B. Raptor
C. Aliens
D. Kittencorns

Answer: Every answer but D. Kittencorns cannot be killed by SUVs because they are a figment of my imagination and do not live in the same realm as SUVs. I may be killed by an SUV but that doesn’t ensure the death of Kittencorn who will live on in infamy as the star of this blog and as the imaginary creature who killed me with an SUV.

9. When referring to this blog you can use which of these phrases:
A. Good Times
B. Old Times
C. New Times
D. Troo (pronounced ‘true’) Times

Answer: all of the above.

Short Answer Question:

10. Please leave a comment detailing your likes/dislikes/questions/comments/concerns about the blog.

Thank you for participating in the first Annual (maybe?) Fantasy Writers Unite Pop Quiz. It’s been a great year, and I’ve still got a lot of ideas left, so I’m definitely looking forward to year two!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Character Creations - Character Relations

When I think about writing a romantic scene a couple of words come to mind: ew, gross, yuck, blah. Now I know what you're thinking, am I 5? No, I'm not 5 years old. Am I 6? No, I'm not and before you keep asking about how immature I am I will explain to you why I feel the way I do. It's because I'm a puritan. That's right, I came over to New England in 1630, I ignored the native's right to the land and their own culture and I ignored the fact that people get freaky. So now, in the year 2009 I'm forced to face that fact as I write "normal" human relationships and I still get a little queasy about it. While I might be an extreme case of a writer who has reservations about writing loves scenes, I'm not the only author that goes at it with some trepedation.

Robert Masello writes, in his amazing book Writer Tells All: "The first time I wrote a truly lubricious sex scene in a novel, I wasn't worried about it when the book was just in typescript, adn I wasn't worried about it when the manuscript came back from the copy editor. But when I saw the book in galleys, when I read those scenes...just as anyone else reading the book would encounter them, I was mortified. What if people didn't understand that it was my naughty character, and not me, that was into this stuff? What if the sex scenes came off as just plain silly, rather than wildly erotic? And now it really dawned on me that, yes, my mother, my father and my brothers would all be reading this stuff."

He goes on to explain: "For weeks, I was embarrassed to talk about the book at all with friends and family, but gradually even that embarrassment faded. For one thing, nobody seemd to care; for another, I'm not sure most of them got that far into the book."

So as an author, don't fear, many authors have been there before with shame written all over the page. As a reader, remember that these scenes are fiction, and that an author spent long hours crafting them expertly. To finish up this post I wanted to emphasis the best kind of love scene I've ever read in a book and which still inspires my own fictional love scenes. It's about what is left out that matters, about what is left to the imaginiation.

Since I know everyone is dying to find out the results from our last poll, I shall post them here:

For those of you who like donuts, here is a donut chart: (and yes I see that textually Cross Examine isn't on this chart but it still is reflected by the light blue section of the donut - you know, the more advanced stage of mold part).

For people like me who don't eat donuts, nor digest infomation via donut charts, here is what excel calls an "area" chart:

Either chart you look at, Jesus on a Cross has won as best title for James Patterson's Next Novel Starring Alex Cross. So get your Catholic robe on Alex, it's going to be a religious ride!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bigger the Dream...

The More Epic the Failure...

Recently, I was given a link to a "funny" blog.
I perused the site, and noticed that this blog has millions of readers (okay, so maybe that's a tiny stretch). And my site, has 4 readers (consistent enough (if I bother them) readers). I figure, funny wise, FYP blog and my blog are pretty equal. So what does this blog have that mine doesn't (other than t-shirts you can buy and profane language)? I can't find an answer to that question (other than Amanda's suggestion that it just has better press), so I've fallen into a "blue" mood and done some soul searching via the internetz. Here is what I've come up with.
Exhibit A:
The funny people at have this to say about dreams:
I read this and my first thought was "I love rainbows!" and I realized that's where I first went wrong.
Having a childlike hope in the world has led me down the path towards epic failure. After almost 1 year of working on this blog, I've got nothing to show for it except for 47 posts of blithering garbage.
Exhibit B:
Here is an adorable kitten who, get this, has her own blog.
Mind you, it's all in Japanese, but still, it's more popular than my blog.
So, mulling this over, I realized that if I don't use profanity, and if I'm not a cute kitten, then I'm never going to be internet famous.
But then, I remembered that kittens grow up.
Exhibit C:

Oh, what wicked webs we weave...Honestly, stardom has not treated this kitten kindly (yes, this is a picture of the same kitten all grown up - I know you don't want to believe it, but it's true). I guess there are prices to pay for internet fame, and I'm not sure I'm ready to be so despondent and dead to the world.

I think my biggest failure is that I think I'm too funny and I want the world to acknowledge this as trooth. The world has declined, but I'll keep writing these posts so at least someday (unless blogger shuts my blog down) I can look back and laugh until I cry (be it because I'm laughing so hard or because I'm abhorrently depressed with my lifetime of failed dreams.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Titles For Some, Excessive Nonsense For Others

Titles are like names but more titillating. So to discuss titles, I thought I'd brainstorm this blog post with my good frenemie and world renowned name expert, Shakespeare. Instead of just helping me, he also insisted on having more a voice in the blog instead of everything being second hand from me, and possible skewed by my own prejudices against him. I agreed to post what he requested that I post, so here are:
Shakespeare's Rules for Writing:

Rule 1: Yellowness of mine own wondered prose will do thine own skimble-skamble speech no kindness.

(Jealousy of my own marvelously gifted prose will do your rambling speech no good).
Rule 2: A true master of the pen is unsisiting, untempering, without stint – even by the Lethe.
(A real author is unresting, unfailing, unstoppable – even by death).
Rule 3: Write not of saucy pirates, unless thine own self is a saucy pirate.(Do not write about lusty pirates unless you are a lusty pirate).

Rule 4: A geck’s nice exion tarres a reader more than a witty man’s unpregnant exion.(A fool’s Folly is more interesting than a smart man’s stupid acts).

Rule 5: To get your work divulged prig from others work.(To get your books published, steal from others work).

Rule 6: To attach purchases: encave, upspring reel, lunes.
(To celebrate success: put one’s self in a cave, dance a boisterous dance and succumb to fits of lunacy)

Rule 7: Candle wasters, cozeners, drabs, jacks, and lags – these are my inwards. They dup my work. If you don’t like it, you can blow it out your kiln-hole.(Persons who sit up all night and drink, cheaters, harlots, mean fellows, and the lowest of the people – these are my intimate friends. They lift up my work. If you don’t like it you can blow it out your ash-hole under your kiln.)

He also says that now you can consider yourself "Schooled - Shakespeare style"...

As enlightening as that was, let's get back to the actual subject at hand. The title for a story or a novel is important. Best title of all time, hands down is: "Of Mice and Men" because it's not only relevant in its shortened version of the entire quote, but the quote it comes from, beautifully describes the overall theme of the story. I enjoy meaningful titles, especially if they can be witty. Some authors prefer to have funny titles and some prefer to have random titles. Shakespeare and I put together a list of possible titles for James Patterson's new Alex Cross novels. If you're not familiar with the Alex Cross series, it's about a detective named Alex Cross. The first two novels became movies: "Kiss the Girls" and "Spider (something or other)" and now Patterson is coming out with Alex Cross books with the word "Cross" in the title, so here are my title offerings. I love to write up titles but don't always have the time to use them, so I'm sharing my wonderful witty wealth. Let me know what you think by selecting one of these amazing titles from the poll in the right column on the blog. Enjoy!
Cross or be Crossed
Cross Bones
Cross Examine
Cross Hair
Cross Reference
Cross Winds
Cross Breed
Cross Index
Cross Eyed
Cross Check
Cross Fertilization
Cross Stitch
Cross Cultural
Pedestrian Crossing
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Cross Dressing
Crossword Puzzle
Cross all of your T's and dot your I's
Cross B, Stills and Nash
Jesus on a Cross

Monday, March 9, 2009

Character Creations - Fears

Fears and nightmares haunt everyone. Wikipedia defines fear as: "an emotional response to threats and danger. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of pain." They also acompany the article on fear with this photo:
I didn't believe this picture to be quite accurate, so I'm providing a better photo of what fear looks like:
When writing a complex character, along with backstory, you also should examine the character's fears.

Pat Bertram, author of "More Deaths Than One" and "A Spark of Heavenly Fire", says on her blog: "By exploiting your character’s greatest fear, you will be able to draw the most depth from your character because, of course, your hero must confront this fear or else you miss the point of your own story."

As an author it is up to you to determine the fears of your characters. Are they simple? Are they strange? Are they complex? Are they predicatble?

One can fear heights, death, spiders, disease, aliens, ghosts, pumpkins, monsters, unicorns, bees, vampires, papercuts, worms, being buried alive, falling, forks, or even just recieving a letter:
Dear Jennifer,

This CEASE AND DESIST ORDER is to inform you that your intimidating actions against MR. HUEY LEWIS have become intolerable. This letter is to demand that your harassment and intimidation CEASE AND DESIST immediately. Should you continue to pursue these activities in violation of this CEASE AND DESIST ORDER, we will not hesitate to pursue further legal action against you including, but not limited to, civil action and/or criminal complaints.
You are a continuous abuser of the public image of Mr. Huey Lewis. Mr. Lewis has never been a time traveler. He has never been to the future, nor does he claim so. Songs are a work of fiction. Mr. Lewis, himself, is not a fictitious character – he is a real man, with real feelings. He is not a spokesperson for any pharmaceutical company and is not a drug user, abuser or drug pusher.
Note that a copy of this letter and a record of its delivery will be stored. Note too that it is admissible as evidence in a court of law and will be used as such if need be in the future.

This CEASE AND DESIST ORDER demands that you immediately discontinue and do not at any point in the future under any circumstances do any of the following to Huey Lewis: speak to, contact, pursue, harass, attack, strike, bump into, brush up against, push, tap, grab, hold, threaten, telephone (via cellular or landline), instant message, page, fax, email, follow, stalk, shadow, disturb his peace, keep him under surveillance, slander, make up stories about him, gather information about and/or block his movements at home, work, social gatherings, religious functions and/or any other reasonable day-to-day activities.Should you willfully choose to continue your current course of action, I will not hesitate to file a complaint with the Police Department for your ongoing violations of criminal Laws.
We demand your immediate attention and compliance in this matter.

Sincerely,The Legal Force which represents Mr. Huey Lewis

To continue my book reading series:

I've finished a Man of the People by Chinua Achebe. It is a novel about the political struggles in Africa and the common man. This novel reminded me a lot of 1984, but the ending is more hopeful.

I also finished "The Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly. A fantasy novel about a boy who seeks out his dead mother in a land of dreams and nightmares. This book was a little predictable, and a little frustrating at times. But overall it was a good novel. I really enjoyed the ending.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Character Creations - Motives

To make a well rounded character you must feed them lots of sweets, and they must be complex. One way to be a complex character is to have motives for your actions. Why does Billy do this? Why does Johnny do that? When given the same plot, similar characters will deal with events differently based on their own motives. Short term goals, long term goals and desires can be motivations for your characters.

When considering motives for your characters you can determine motives prior to writing your story such as in the initial stages of plot outlining and backstory writing; you can watch as your character interacts with other characters and follows the plot to determine their motives, or you can take another path entirely which I haven’t outlined here.

Also, motives can help to connect your characters to your readers. By establishing believable motives, your characters can obtain sympathy from the readers of your work, and this sympathy will keep them reading.

If you have trouble writing up believable motives for your characters, think of your own motivation. Why do you get out of bed each morning? What are you working for? Also, consider if you were in the plot of your own story, what would your own motives be? Would those motives fit the motives of one of your characters? If you were tossed back in time by a crazed scientist would you do the things you do because you want to get home, or would you do different things because you want to screw with the past (although it's possible that everything you do in the past you already did and anything you do won't actually change the future - this depends on whether or not time is linear or circular. Being a teacher in the school of "time is circular", myself, my understanding is that if you were to go back and kill yourself and you would find out that you did not kill yourself because if you kill yourself then there is no you in the future to come back to the past and kill yourself. It's like getting yourself into a pickle you can never defeat. - Good times). Ultimately, the question in this scenario is, are you motivated by good outcomes or bad outcomes. Ultimately, as a writer, are your characters motivated by their own desires or by the well being of others?

As a final example, let us consider the character Huey Lewis. At one point he was motivated by his desire to "find a new drug", another time his motivation came from "the power of love". Now ask yourself, are these motives believable? Do you have sympathy for the character of Huey Lewis? I think we can all learn from this relatively flat character (almost one minded, if you ask me) and we can make our characters stronger. Just remember the mantra: "Better than Huey Lewis". Whenever I feel down, I tell myself that I'm better than Huey Lewis and I feel great! Some days it takes a "I'm so much better than..." or "I'm amazing and that Huey Lewis is a dud," but no matter what it takes, it works. And it can work for making your lives better and the complexity of your characters better too. So next time you're working on a character and they don't have good enough motives, just ask yourself "how cany my character be better than Huey Lewis, just like I am?"*

*With no disrespect to Mr. Lewis or the legal force he has working for him. He's a great guy and I love his music.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Phrasemania p.2

Earlier in February I did a post on common phrases: meaning and origins and after that post, I realized that there were even more phrases that needed explanation.

Now, this are my meanings/origins for these words, some based in the real world, some based in my head, if you're offended check out Ricky Gervais' blog and you'll see what real offensive posts look like. Without further ado...

"It's/that's gold" Meaning it's great/wonderful/fantasmic.
Originated in the 1849 gold rush. Modern use is to describe comedic jokes or comedic acts. When a comedian tells a good joke and no one laughs, they have the legal right to say: "Come on, that joke is gold!" or "That's gold, people! Why do I waste telling my jokes to lame nobody's who can't laugh worth a snot when I'm dolling out the best jokes in the biz?!?!" Or a variation of those phrases.

"Classy" Sophisticated/sophistication.
This term began as a reference to class. When the class system began in the U.S. classes were put into levels from poorest to wealthiest and denoted by an alphabetical system. The richest class was Class Z. Class Z lacked tact and sophistication as they threw their money in peoples' faces (sometimes literally). Consider Scrooge:

As a general rule, Class Y had similar amounts of money to Class Z, they just didn't show it off as much, and were kinder to those who were of a lower class. As time wore on, people forgot about the alphabetical class system; seeing Class Y in print soon became "classy" in normal conversation. As more time wore on, and the class system became a 3ish part system, classy no longer referred to the rich as much as it referred to the sophistication shown by those of Class Y.
"Lyeberrie" Circa 1880.
Around the same time as the U.S. established public libraries, the ever elusive lyberrie appeared. Some believe this to be a very sour fruit similar to when one gets a taste of their own medicine and finds it to be very bitter. It may also be a gigantic berry which houses books (which would explain requests for lyberrie cards) but this magical place is more evasive than the Loch Ness monster and possibly cannot be seen by the human eye. This term is also considered to be used by people who either: a.) cannot articulate OR b.) actually think a Library is a lyberrie.

"Too Legit to Quit" also printed as "2 Legit 2 Quit" Circa 1991.
When someone tells you to stop you don't stop. Your desires/work/whatever you're doing is legitimate enough to continue on in the face of any challenge. Has been known to be used to prevent suicide: "Dude, you are too legit to quit life!" Should not be used to condone smoking/drinking/drugging/gambling/any other addiction/harmful behavior.

"Jelly" Popular term in France during the years prior to the French revolution (1789-1799). The upper class citizens where know to say to the lower class citizens "Jelly?" in passing as a way of asking if they were jealous of their money and of the fact that they actually had food to eat. During the revolution, the lower class citizens asked the same of the upper class citizens as they were sent to the Guillotine as a way of asking if they were jealous that the poor got to keep their heads and the rich didn't. Contemporary use: primarily in reference to a fruit-made paste for toast, sandwiches, cookies, pancakes and biscuits. Although, in some circles it still can be used in questions about jealousy and in statements of jealousy: "Did you see her shoes? I'm so jelly." (Insert sad face).

"To Catch A Predator"
This phrase has been around since the beginning of time. As long as there have been predators, there has been the mentality/hope to "catch a predator". This phrase means either to literally catch one in a net/cage/other device or on film (It is well known that prehistoric man where the first to invent the Polaroid so they could take photos of predators (along with family and sometimes attacking family) and they couldn't wait 24 hours to get it developed down at the closest convenience store, so they invented the Polaroid camera.).

On a quick side note, for years I've been telling people about the threat of Raptors (especially during the rapture) and not the basketball team, those guys are pansies when compared to the (Veloci)raptor of the Jurassic period. Now, I can't quote the wonderful lines beautifully acted by the great Sam Neill in Jurassic Park due to copyright reasons, (more so because I wouldn't do them justice) but I think after seeing that film (and the millions of nightmares later) that we can all agree that a raptor is one freaky predator, much worse than the predators of today. In this day and age we see a lot of predators from wild animals to 60 yr old creeps pretending to be 14 in online chat rooms. And while we are more aware of our online predators, let us not forget those of the past, or you may be surprised who shows up at your house to meet your 14 yr old daughter. Naked and with a 6 pack...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mythology - Using Old/Making New

We have previously explored some of my humorous mythology:
{Zoology of Mythical Creatures V.1}
{Zoology of Mythical Creatures V.2}
{Zoology of Mythical Creatures V.3}
But we should also explore the use of mythology in writing.

Mythology is defined as "a body of folklore/myths/legends that a particular culture believes to be true and that often use the supernatural to interpret natural events and to explain the nature of the universe and humanity." (Thank you wikipedia).
Mythology also has been known to spring forth from history, or to replace history entirely. It is quite the sneaky little creature. When an author writes a tome of a novel, much backstory must be given, and often this author will go into the (lengthy 100-1,000 pages of description) mythology of the people whom the story is about.

The question this begets would be: When creating a story, do you create your own mythology, use an old mythology, or a combination of the two?

Many authors use old mythology for their stories. This gives a good background to the lives of characters or explains the attributes and limitations of gods, supernatural beings, and other elements of the story connected to the mythology. This is not to be confused with the use of commonly known fairytales in stories, while fairytales can be part of a mythology, using a fairytale as the base plot of a story (in hopes to give the known tale a new spin) is different than using old mythology. A good example of this kind of using old mythology would be stories or books with Greek gods and more specifically Atlantis in them.

Some authors are creative/smart/dedicated/focused enough to create their own unique (as possible) mythology for their characters. Do I do this? No. Why not? Because I'm lazy, it's good enough just to get a story down, no need to worry about what was before and after that. Will that hurt me in the long run? Maybe, but the more I write, the better my stories get, and with time I'll write mythologies with the best of them (writers). Seriously though, enough about me, if you could take five seconds to stop asking questions and just listen to what I have to say, that would be great. Thanks.
Back to dedicated authors. So a good example of someone who wrote a complete mythology and history for their books would be J.R.R. Tolkien, although I'm sure many fantasy writers have been known to create extensive worlds around their stories. This would be another area in which fantasy authors don't get enough credit. When was the last time James Patterson wrote a complete history and mythology for the fictional characters he made up? How 'bout never. Anyways . . .

When writing or reading fantasy, consider the mythology. If you're reading and they are giving you backstory, you should probably pay attention. If you're writing, consider if it is important to know the mythology of your people and give this mythology the time and energy it needs for it to be as full and interesting as the mythology of our present world.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy V-Day

So I was making some valentines for some people. And I thought I would share one with my loving readers. I hope this brightens your day.

On Valentine's Day even Octomom deserves some love...
Or is that burning sensation just impotent rage?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In Place of Something Better

So I've been working on a big blog post, one that is more thought out and prepared than most, but it's taking way too long so I'm going to post a sympathy blog, just so I can keep up with my self-determined quota.

I looked over a book recently. It seemed interesting at first glance, suggesting that it was a book about common phrases - their meanings and their origins. My interest soon turned into disappointment as the book proved to lack some of my favorite phrases. I will post these here and my understanding of what their meanings are and their origins. Why, you ask? To educate the masses, that's why.

"Blow this pop stand" (Can be used with 'Let's' or 'It's time to').
As seen on the semi-popular TV show Miami Vice. Meaning "To exit or remove oneself from a less than exciting location or environment." So next time you're bored or even if you just want to sound cool like me, you can use this phrase while exiting. Just don't use it when making small talk with an undercover police officer while holding a stick of dynamite next to a pop stand. Some of us learn those tough lessons so the rest of you don't have to...

"Too Hot to Trot"
Some people consider this to mean very attractive. Actually the phrase can be attributed to the early settlers in the Southern United States who would complain when the weather became too hot for their horses to run, this led to many a slow pursuits for bandits and other hooligans on horseback. It also was used in the American Civil War when it was too hot for people to catch dysentery, or at least it was too hot for them to show symptoms of the horrible disease (or was it a virus, or do disease and virus mean the same thing? If so, was it a bacterial infection then, and is that a virus too?)

"Keeping It Real"
To be authentic, true to oneself; to be cool. 'Nuff said. This phrase was stared by none other than myself. j/k. The "keeping it real" hysteria can be linked back to when, in our capitalist society, companies started creating similar products to original products, and the original products starting using the phrase "keeping it real" to prove that they were the authentic version of a highly processed food. Not to be confused with the phrase "Keeping it Seal" created by singer/songwriter Seal.

"Tru Dat" & "Word"
Phrase combination used by one or two parties. Used to signify agreement. Can be linked back to Algonquian nations of Native Americans, used when trading with English settlers.

"Good Times"
It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment in history when this phrase started, since, historically, there have been many "good times". In present day use, "Good Times" can be used not only in reference to good times, but also in reference to bad times such as "My Grandmother's finger exploded. Good times." When used in this form, the phrase "Good Times" establishes the end of a discussion on a topic. Since nothing else can be said about the event, "good times" establishes that no more needs to be said. Also used when reminiscing about "good times".

"True Story"
Similar to the historical roots and meaning of "good times". Can be used in place of "good times" when a listener seems to be skeptical about a given story, or to reinforce the use of "good times". Example: "My Grandmother's finger exploded - true story. Good times".

"He's/She's a Winner"
Winners have been around since the beginning of time, but it wasn't until the turn of the century that sarcasm was discovered, giving this phrase new meaning. If someone tells you that you are a "winner" and it's not your Grandmother/Father, Mother/Father, Significant other/other person who would lie to you, then it means you aren't a winner, you're actually the opposite. Listen to me, you no longer want to be a winner, it's no longer cool. You also don't want to be a loser because that's not cool either. You just want to never be defined as either a winner or a loser and you'll never be caught on someone's judgemental radar.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Years of waiting and finally it's happened. I told all y'all, and no one believed me until some hackers brought out the truth:

Whatcha going to do now? All I knows, is that I've got my rifle and my crowbar ready! I do appreciate their use of "caution" instead of "Run You Mother Truckers!" (Maybe that's why many people still don't believe the message - it wasn't urgent enough or Samuel L. Jackson enough).

And just incase you didn't understand the first construction sign message, the hackers were nice enough to send this message too:

Pride is a terrible thing to waste, so stop being mad because you didn't see it coming. Don't be angry because I was right (like always). Haters have tasty brains - so you better stop hatin' or the zombies will get you first.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Promptly Rejected By Writing

Short on ideas? Want to try something new but don't know where to start? Too bad for you, it's a writer eat writer world out there. No one can help you. Do you think that if I didn't have any ideas I could just go up to a writer buddy of mine and be like "Dude, got any good ideas I can steal?" I would only do that if I was looking for a knife fight. So deal.

How do those statements make you feel? Hurt, angry? Ready to knife me? Good. Write it out. Or, if you don't like my prompt, check out these sites for more ideas:

Any writer, writing prompts:

Fantasy writer, writing prompts:

Words and statements as writing prompts:

Pictures as writing prompts:

Songs as writing prompts:


To continue my book reading series:

I recently finished reading Grave's End by Elaine Mercado

This is an intruiging tale about a true ghost haunting. I was hoping that the end of the story would go more into the explanation of where the ghosts were from and why they were there, but the explanation was a little flat. It still was an interesting, and quick, read.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Word Power

When I say word power, I do not mean that the person with the most books or the most knowledge of words can use that power to take over the world (I know, this makes me cry too). What I mean, is that words have power. The pronunciation and the spelling of words holds a magic that cannot be described (ironically enough) in words.

My favorite word is aluminum, but only when pronounced as the British do, Al-oo-min-ee-um. Consider dialects in books and in your own writing. The appropriate pronuncation, when written out holds the magic to show a reader where that character is from without having to say he's Russian, or she's German. And, different pronunciations hold different power for words. When someone says: "sugar" it holds a different meaning than when someone says: "shug".

Spelling is important too. Trooth, (unlike Krab, being fake crab), is more troothy than "truth". When Jack Nicholson said "You can't handle the trooth!" in A Few Good Men, it held more power. If he had said "You can't handle the truth!" he surely wouldn't have received a nomintation for an Oscar for that role. If caught in a lie, you can always ask "Do you want the truth, or the trooth?" Usually people won't know the difference between the two, and will request the "truth", and since it's less troothy than trooth, you can tell them a weaker version of the trooth (just f.y.i.).

Another example of the power of words: In the olden days, okay, not the 80s, but the olden olden days (pre-1980's) Kings who suspected the poisoning of their drinks would say: "I'm rubber and you're glue, attempts made on my life bounce off me and stick to you." Upon speaking these words, poison would jump out of their cup and into the mouths of the one who poured it in the cup. Literally. I've seen it happen. And when I say poison I do not mean the band Poison because this is pre-1980's, I mean actual toxins that can kill you, kind of like what Bret Michaels is spreading around on his love shows...or so I hear...

Moving on. Word choice is very important. Do you every wonder why an author chose one descriptive word over another? Do you, as a writer, find yourself disgusted with your own word choices, wishing that you could find stronger words for your stories? Words should not be taken lightly, they hold a magic like no other (especially when describing magic) so choose your words wisely, especially when speaking or writing the trooth.


Book Reading Bonanza update:

I recently finished Welcome to Hard Times by E.L. Doctorow. This is his first published novel. I enjoyed the description and the moral discussion that is created by the characters and their thoughts and actions. In this novel, a man named Blue watches the destruction of his town during the wild days of the American West. Unable to accept failure, and full of renewed hope, Blue - with good intentions - manipulates those around him to rebuild the town; bringing in new settlers and old wood. But some things never change, and some mistakes have to be made twice.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Naming Characters, the Great Debate.

Let me share an old courtroom transcript with you, to explore the debate of naming characters.

Jennifer v. Shakespeare
In the case of the importance of a name.

Jennifer: Let me toss some questions out there for the court.

Is your name important to you? If your name was Elektra, would you have a more exciting life, especially if you were male? We have the ability to legally change our name, because names are important to us, and we want to ensure we've got the right name, a name that is genuine to us, to who we want to be. So why not give your characters adequate names.

I mean, really, what's more important, the meaning of your character's name, the meaning of your baby's name? Obviously the character name is more important, but as a side note, something I've been wondering for a while; if your last name is Webster, Clay, Calhoun, or Lincoln are you obliged to name your child Daniel, Henry, John C. or Abraham respectively?

Back to the facts. Names are important, and the meaning behind them is important, so when you choose a name for your character, think about it, make it meaningful. Not only does this enrich your characters, but it deepens the meaning of your story and enhances your writing overall.

(Whereupon, Jennifer sits down and looks to Shakespeare.)

(Whereupon, Shakespeare stands, takes a drink of water and clears his throat.)

Shakespeare: The good people of the court must agree with me, when I say what's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. I have also said "The man that finds that his senses have precieved the stench of gruesome death, and to quethe this knowledge on the guests, surely he spoiled the party" (Current day context: He who smelt it, dealt it).

(Whereupon, the courtroom laughs.)

But that quote has nothing to do with this argument, it was merely used to make you all like me better and possibly vote for my side of the argument. But as a writer and a reader, I believe that an object or a person has substance beyond their name. You may call me Shakespeare or Steve and I will write the same, have the same wit, still get your vote, I am still the same man with or without my name.

(Whereupon, the case in the above-entitled matter was submitted.)


As a side note: I'm working on reading more in 2009. So, I'm keeping a list on this blog showing what I've read this year. If you have any good book suggestions, bring them on (please one per person, and no suggestions like "everyone poops". I would enjoy something that will actually enrich my life). I will read at least 50 pages and if it still sucks, I will allow you another suggestion. Then, as the year goes on, I'll add finished books to my list and probably drop a line or two about the book at the end of a post.